During the past couple of years the Copenhagen-based Dane, Rangleklods, has created a following in the underground scenes of Berlin and Denmark through original and ambitious tracks paired with intense and ever-changing live performances. We met up with Rangleklods for a chat about sound, production techniques and the genre-relativity within Berlin's music scene.
Rangleklods' music captures its audience by seeing past genre conventions and what's considered good and bad taste. By giving in to the subconscious will of his creative impulses while playfully utilizing the computer as a musical instrument of limitless potential, the sound of Esben Andersen becomes what would only be fair to call a breath of fresh air. Rangleklods combines a great ear for melody with sound experiments, which is, in turn, held together by a charismatically deep and arresting voice.
We met up with Rangleklods in his Vesterbro studio for a talk about his production techniques and his approach to creating and playing music.
O: What are your primary sources of inspiration?
R: It can be many different things. It could be a certain vocal harmony I’ve heard during the day that just sticks with me. Typically the inspiration comes from the thing itself. Meaning that, when I start off with something on my computer, it’s often quite difficult to imagine where it will take me. If it’s a specific sound you want to create, I often make a chain of effects to that sound. That could be a certain reverb with delay on or I would make the sound all distorted. Then the sound of that result determines which way to go from there.
Take me through the process for the development of a new track?
It’s rare that I start off with a great vision of how a song should be. With time, I found that the songs I make, when starting completely from scratch, without any expectations, undoubtedly become the best songs. So I try to have a completely clean slate, and let the pen do the work. The process for developing a new track has changed a bit as the number of people in the live act has grown. When I have people with me in the song-writing process, I have to think of the melody much earlier in the process, in relation to vocal or any other key element. Whereas in the past, I sometimes focused a bit too much on sound in the beginning, and brought in the melodic elements very late in the process. Since I don’t have any predetermined method for making new tracks, every time is a little nerve wrecking. That makes the process and the approach for making music different every time. For me that’s so inspiring and exciting. - I think you need that nervous tension to push yourself to the limit every time.
What elements are the most important to you, when you create music?
My enjoyment of music is very sound-based. I have this duality as a musician as I act both as a composer and a producer. Meaning that when you work as a producer, you develop a more analytical approach to making music. I have that approach, but also constantly having the focus; what do my ears like, and what don’t they like. Gradually, I think I’ve come to a place where those two are intertwined. A lot of my songs are centred around a single note. I’m very conscious that my songs aren’t built on chord progressions. I think that when music is built up like that, one's thoughts are led onto something you've heard before, or something similar to it. When playing on a guitar and a piano, you have a primary voice of that instrument, which can’t be moulded. Therefore, you need some change in your chords. BUT, when working on the computer, I can obtain a tonal change by changing the sound while still being in the same chord. By basing my music on a single note, and giving chords very little thought, I feel that I have been freed melodically.
What is most important when you're creating a new track: sound or vocal?
Often the vocal is followed by the sound. It’s very rare that I’ve started out with the vocals. On tracks like ‘Bekeeper’ and ‘cough’ the vocal has been the primary element. But often it’s some time into the production, before I turn to the microphone. The reason for that is that my primary focus is on the sound of the vocal. I think the vocal sound, can be at least as important as the words actually being sung. The lyrics can be beautiful, but if it doesn’t complement the melody, it doesn’t do anything for me. Because of this I work a lot with instinctive lyrics, that emerge by themselves, and from there I modify them to make them match the sound. If a word is sung in the right way, with the right sound, it really gets to me emotionally. Sometimes it all comes together in a higher unity. As in: "every time I cough, it's like I taste you”. That manages to capture exactly the right sounds and the exact meaning that you want the words to have.
What kind of equipment do you use when creating music?
A very powerful computer is essential to me. I think that 80 percent of the beginning of my music is created on the computer. When it comes to synths I use software synthesizer, as I prefer the flexibility it offers, compared to a hardware synthesizer. With the money I have available it’s better for me to start with software as I think the quality is better than the quality of "cheap" hardware. I'd rather wait to buy the hardware, until I have the money for real quality. I think the computer is underestimated. The whole analog vs. digital really annoys me. In my opinion, it takes away the focus of making good music. For me, it is more a question of getting to know your tools and learning how to master them.
How would you describe really good sound to you?
When sound can convey an emotion. For example, I love good lo-fi sound and I love good high-fidelity audio, and everything in between. - I think every sound has its own optimal form. So for me, it's about getting the most out of every sound.
When performing, how much is pre-mixed and how much are you able to change during the gig?
The songs aren’t mixed together in advance, so I decide when the next track begins and I have the ability to change the set list as I like. There are a great deal of the tracks, which are pre-mixed. But the way I do it is that I split up my tracks into a drum track and an instrumental track. Of course there is a start and an end, but live I can decide during the track if there are some things I want to loop or change. By having it set up like that I can really modify and change a lot in the drums while the rest of the track stays the same. It sounds simple, but it offers so many more options than if you had it all on one track. It's something I constantly take advantage of during a concert. I make changes in sound, make loops and turn different things up and down. I simply can’t keep my fingers to myself, and by doing that, I make sure that I keep the songs interesting for the audience and myself.
How did Berlin influence Rangleklods?
One of the most important things Berlin did for me, are probably the fact that I surrendered completely to the idea, that I was not making music based on genre. When I came to Berlin, I had some sketches for new some songs, all very different. From a very poppy chorus in Young and Dumb to something with more focus on the peculiar sounds in Puzzle Head.
The part of Berlin I was into I saw that people were completely indifferent to a radical change in genre. You could, when going out, go from minimal tech to some old soul and on to something really 80’s, and people were open to all of it. I really embraced that. It didn’t matter what kind of idea I got musically, I would just go with it and try to make it work. That became a big challenge for me.
Rangleklods: Project or permanent artist?
Everything I create from here on out I imagine will be as Rangleklods. As there is no specific genre or recipe for a Rangleklods track, everything from tech to acoustic could be Rangleklods.
When can we expect new things from Rangleklods?
I would really like to release something new quite soon. But we’re still in the middle of creating new songs. There’s some material that’s almost finished, but not enough to be played live yet. People should be excited - that’s all I can say.